360 Degrees, 365.* days

The moon is waning, looking to the east from the bridge I stand on it is not quite the color of a blood orange. 47 degree crisp air swirls along my naked thighs, the gap between black knee high stockings and purple skirt. There is a gash on my right leg, from which I feel my ability to form blood clots is still at work.

Up the hill walks a man, who passes by me a little close, then perches a reasonable foot to the left of me for conversation. Deep face of umber, bright yellow coveralls & rain jacket, a matching hat with fur that drapes over his neck. He speaks with a deep and dry voice that rasps out his autumn parched throat, “Don’t jump off now, I’d have to go down there and scoop you up.”

And I glance down, past 30 foot saplings, and changing leaves, the abandoned train tracks over the bay that lead to nowhere, and the tidal flats…“Wasn’t about to,” say I, though yes, in idle moments, the idea will cross the mind as an unpleasant, “falling would hurt.”

And he mumbles on about how he does not know what I’m thinking as I gaze off like that, all contemplative like there’s something real heavy on my mind. So I gesture towards the moon, the landscape and it’s ports, stores, and lights unfolding.

“Thinking about being on the moon?”

“Not particularly, more the color of the moon…”

He goes on about how the moon and sun are two stationary stars, and the earth goes orbiting all about in a perfect circle – 365 degrees – no coincidence that our calendar has 365 days, one degree around the sun a day…

I don’t tell him that circles only have 360 degrees, because his world is more remarkable than mine. Besides, what the hell is a degree anyway? I contemplate the idea of telling him that the moon and sun are not stationary…Moon, sun, earth, falling dizzily towards god know what. He’s ranting about selling me air and selling water when a young woman, sheltering a shaggy cat within her coat passes us by.

He turns up to her, “What are you kids doing with that pussy?”

She keeps going, and he turns back to me. “I think she took that the wrong way…This woman once, I said good evening to her, and she looked at me and said ‘You don’t know me.’ I said to her, ‘Do I have to know you?’ and you tell me did I have to know her to say good evening? I know what you are made of. Know you by your bones and veins, know you down to the marrow, know your daddy’s daddy and your mamma’s ma…

He steps back and puts his arms out, spinning in a circle. From his backpack straps swing raccoon tails in fearful symmetry. “Do you know what this is? Do you know me?”

And I say “Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.”

And he goes on, “365 degrees, this is 365 degrees over and over, and if I spin enough you’ll become dizzy.”

And soon, another person passes us as he walks up the hill, and he sidles over to me and says, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go curse this fucker out.” Then, he starts pacing in parallel alongside the young man, and they travel up the hill together.

I take my leave in the opposing direction, and reconsider what knowing another person really might be.


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